Ceasefires and Conflict Dynamics in Myanmar
Saturday, 01 June 2019
While the conflict between these three groups could be seen as a proxy war (Asia Times, 16 August 2018), the RCSS/SSA-S has denied receiving assistance from the military and the relationship between the RCSS/SSA-S and the military has recently soured with tensions leading to occasional clashes (Radio Free Asia, 28 December 2018). At the end of April, both sides withdrew their troops after talks aimed at promoting unity among ethnic Shan; subsequently battles have declined (Shan Herald Agency for News, 26 April 2019). Yet, the commitment to ending the conflict between the two Shan groups does not extend to the PSLF/TNLA, thus ensuring the likelihood of future conflict in the region regardless of the current military ceasefires.

Prospects for Peace
Near the end of April, fighting between the KIO/KIA and the military began to increase in northern Shan state (see Figure 5). Despite the fighting, the military and the Northern Alliance met for talks in Muse on 30 April with other FPNCC members present as observers. After the meeting, the military’s unilateral ceasefire was extended another two months; the ceasefire still excludes Rakhine state (The Irrawaddy, 1 May 2019).
With the extension of the ceasefire, the military has maintained its position that the goal of additional talks during the coming two months is to persuade the alliance groups to sign the NCA (Frontier Myanmar, 1 May 2019). As noted, this approach has not been effective and has been thwarted by the alliance of EAOs insisting on resolving certain issues, namely those of ethnic equality and self-determination, before signing the NCA. While the military has used the ceasefire to concentrate its forces in Rakhine state, the alliance between the AA and other EAOs means the military has been unable to isolate and contain conflict in the country to a single geographic region. Assuming the alliance between the majority of EAOs fighting the military continues to hold, the military will have to contend with their concerns if they aim for peace. Thus, the military’s continued insistence that the NCA is the only acceptable pathway to peace is likely to lead to fighting not only in Rakhine state, but also potentially to renewed fighting in areas covered by the ceasefire in Kachin and northern Shan state.

Appendix 1: Ethnic Armed Organizations in Myanmar
[1] The FPNCC is a political alliance comprised of seven EAOs including the United Wa State Army (UWSA), Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), Arakan Army (AA), Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) (see Appendix 1).
[2] The Northern Alliance includes four members of the FPNCC: the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), Arakan Army (AA), Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA) and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The KIO/KIA has trained and supported the other three groups which have never signed bilateral ceasefires with the military. The Northern Alliance has recently held meetings with the government peace team with the other members of the FPNCC present as observers.